An anthropomorphic pig in a conservative men’s business suit and sensible shoes philosophizes about conforming to the stories that others create for us.
A verso that looks like a piece of graph paper has one typed sentence: “I never really felt like I fit IN.” Could this be because, in the portrait on the recto, the narrator is the only short, obviously porcine-faced businessman of the five who solemnly face viewers (the other four are white human men)? No: at the turn of the page, readers learn that the pig, now dangling upside down in a room full of men and numbers, feels resignation at being Assistant Bean Counter No. 1138 in a place where “something only matters if it can be counted.” Wordplay continues around the double meaning of “count,” as well as other expressions, always enhanced by the illustrations. It is the art that elevates the book’s sparse sentences, with its use of texture, humorous details, and surrealism, all expressed in an autumnal palette. Rushing into a bookstore to escape a thunderstorm, the pig finds both an encouraging, blue-eyed sow-clerk and—yes—books. Their stories may be familiar to readers, but, of course, the artwork portrays all the heroes as pigs. A wolf’s shadow—and eventually, an enormous flesh-and-blood wolf (in business garb, of course)—represent the pig’s self-defeating thoughts as he strives to release his inner acrobat.
Quirky and amusing, though pitched to a sophisticated audience that may feel it’s beyond picture books. (Picture book. 9-12)